On 2 April 2020, the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the videoconference of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs to discuss the steps taken by NATO Allies in providing mutual support for countering COVID-19. The Ministers appreciated the measures put in place to date, including the airlift of essential materials and vital equipment, which demonstrates Allied solidarity. At the same time, a commitment was made to exert even greater efforts on implementation of a coordinated and comprehensive approach using the mechanisms at NATO’s disposal.
The ministers agreed that the Alliance should continue to fulfil its basic mission – assuring credible deterrence and collective defence. The Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Tod D. Walters, informed the ministers that regardless of precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Alliance’s forces retain their preparedness to ensure a rapid and effective response to any challenge.
The continuity of the process of NATO political decision-making is also being ensured in order to strengthen security both in the eastern and southern direction. During the meeting, the foreign ministers adopted important decisions on a broader involvement of the Allies in the fight against international terrorism, including through providing support for Iraqi forces in combating ISIL. New measures were agreed with respect to facilitating cooperation with the Alliance’s partners – Ukraine and Georgia – and a reflection process was launched, in which, with the help of experts nominated by the NATO Secretary General, opinions will be shared on the strengthening of the political dimension of the Alliance.
It should be noted that not only was this the first Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the history of the Alliance held in the video-conferencing format but also NATO’s first ministerial level meeting in which the Republic of North Macedonia took part as a full member. The 2nd of April is also significant in the context of Latvia’s membership in NATO: 16 years ago today the flag of Latvia was raised at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
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